Passion for Justice

USF Forum Addresses Daunte Wright Killing

Part of an ongoing initiative to tackle racism

by Mary McInerney, USF News

Can policing be reformed or reimagined in some way?

That was the discussion at a forum this week convened by USF as part of an anti-racism series. The topic took on renewed meaning because of the shooting and killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright on April 11 by police — 10 miles from where former police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for killing George Floyd less than a year ago.

“We’re all reeling from the loss of another Black community member, Black son, Black father, Black man who was just trying to get somewhere,” said Andrea Ritchie, a police misconduct lawyer and panelist at the forum.

“Rinse, wash, repeat. It’s a cycle,” she said.

Addressing Racism

Ritchie joined Dean Spade, associate professor at Seattle University School of Law, and Mary J. Wardell-Ghirarduzzi, vice provost of diversity engagement and community outreach at USF. The discussion was held on Zoom because of the pandemic.

The talk is part of an initiative called “6+You” at USF that includes programs about race and racism. The effort grew out of calls for the university to face concerns about structural racism, and this forum was part of an effort to reimagine policing, including the Department of Public Safety at USF.

Too Many Killings

Ritchie and Spade, who advocate limiting police authority in the U.S., said they do not think policing can be reformed or reimagined.

“The whole (police) system isn’t about containing dangerous people,” said Spade.

Instead, Spade and Ritchie say, police are viewed in many communities as being responsible for lawlessness and terror.

“I don’t want to reimagine policing,” Ritchie said. “I don’t want to reimagine police killing another Daunte Wright. I want safety.”

USF News will report on "6+You” throughout 20212022, covering forums, discussions, and events related to this initiative.